Helen Twose

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Tech boss off on his own challenge

Greg Cross sees benefits in competition.
Greg Cross sees benefits in competition.

Technology boss Greg Cross should have been at the launch of the University of Auckland Entrepreneurs' Challenge last night.

Instead he is fronting up to represent his wireless charging technology business, PowerbyProxi, at the executive meeting of one of the most important companies in the world in Seoul, Korea.

Now in its fifth year, the Entrepreneurs' Challenge dishes out $1 million in funding and support to high growth companies with an eye on overseas expansion.

Cross heads up the investment committee charged with picking companies that will make the final cut.

"In some respects it's exactly what [the Entrepreneurs' Challenge] is about," he said.

"I got asked to attend a meeting and the right thing to do was to get on a plane at short notice and make sure I was there."

It meant explaining to business school dean Greg Whittred why he couldn't appear at what Cross said was a very important commitment, the opening of the million-dollar business competition to this year's entrants.

Thirteen businesses have benefited from the programme, kick-started with the backing of expat businessman Charles Bidwill.

Cross said it was important for the business school to support the Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

"We are really showing the kids coming through our universities now that a career in entrepreneurialism ... and building something yourself is something that is a career option once they finish their studies."

He said there were also a "bunch of reasons" for businesses with global ambitions to enter the challenge. The judging process and evaluation process alone was a good discipline for businesses to go through.

"If you're looking for money, if you're looking at some sort of market growth initiative, to have people of the calibre of the investment committee to hear your story, your pitch, give you feedback; that's a hugely valuable process in its own right," Cross said.

While Cross will be scrutinising the quality of the people behind the businesses fronting up to the investment committee, the group will be looking for clear company fundamentals.

"We are looking for a business that has demonstrated that it knows its market, it knows its customers and it knows its competitors and has a clear strategy as to how it's going to position itself to those customers, against those competitors to create a viable market."

Entries close on July 5, with winners announced in October.

Entrepreneurs' Challenge

*Open to companies seeking funding for growth or expansion.
*Businesses with a financial track record and a minimum turnover of $1 million will be preferred.
*Funding will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with up to $1 million available on favourable terms.
*Entries open June 18, close July 5, 5pm.
*Winners announced in October.

For more information go to:
www.entrepreneurschallenge.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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